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Skull Splitter - Orkney Brewery

Skull SplitterSkull Splitter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,585 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1585
Reviews: 905
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 12.5%

Brewed by:
Orkney Brewery visit their website
United Kingdom (Scotland)

Style | ABV
Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-08-1998)
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Ratings: 1,585 | Reviews: 905 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Sammy

Ontario (Canada)

3.75/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A smooth drinking scotch ale, smooth medium plus mouthfeel. Muted smoke and fruit flavour. Appropriately average carbonation. Sweet malty finish. More drinkable than the style, more muted flavour. Good lacing. Alcohol spice aroma. Alcohol sledgehammer afterwards.

Serving type: bottle

09-17-2006 02:26:23 | More by Sammy
Photo of UCLABrewN84


3.95/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Best before 7/2014.

Pours a murky brown with a 1/2 inch foamy dark khaki head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Foamy swaths of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of toasted malt, dark fruits, burnt caramel/toffee, and some herbal hop aromas. Taste is of malt, burnt caramel, dark fruit, and some earthy, herbal hop flavors. There is an alcohol kick and a mild bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that is tasty but fairly strong.

Serving type: bottle

08-11-2012 04:41:19 | More by UCLABrewN84
Photo of BuckeyeNation


4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dark reddish bronze with orange peel accents. The beer itself is clear, but is filled with a large number of chunky particulates that one doesn't usually see in this style (at least I don't). Atop the liquid is a moderate-sized, toasted tan head of sticky foam that is deposits a short, thick collar of lace with a few scraps higher up the glass.

The nose is nice even if it isn't quite as complex as the noses on the very best versions. Dark butterscotch, sour peat and whisky are the main components. I don't believe it's quite as dark as some Scotch ales; there's very little cocoa or molasses for instance.

There's plenty of flavor and plenty of power, but it still strikes me as a bit short on complexity. This is still very good beer however. The flavor profile is essentially a reprise of the nose. It's both sweet and sour (bitter appears on the finish), delivering a big, malty, whiskyish flood of goodness with each mouthful. Nuance is cast aside for power and strength, as it should be in a beer named SkullSplitter.

It becomes smoother and still more peaty, phenolic even, with warming. This beer is starting to remind me of Islay Scotch due to the emerging medicinal phenols (think Band-Aids, but in a good way). The finish is long and lingering, the better to savor the flavor, and the medium-full body has a pleasing, mouthcoating lubricity.

SkullSplitter is aptly named. It isn't a 'float like a butterfly, sting like a bee' kind of beer, but more of a 'rush the bastard and plant an axe between his eyes' kind of beer. That isn't entirely fair, it's more refined than that, but it is on the straightforward end of the Scotch ale spectrum. This is a beer that I'll be sure to look for again.

Serving type: bottle

02-26-2005 21:33:32 | More by BuckeyeNation
Photo of mikesgroove

South Carolina

4.15/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This was superb, a really well crafted beer that I waited far too long to try. Finally got around to buying a single of this one tonight while I was on my trip up to knoxville and I was not dissapointed. Poured a very nice deeep dark brown with an ample two inch head of off white foamy lace on top. This had some very nice retention and left behind about a half inch of frothy white foam on the top when it was done. Very nice side glass lace as well. The smell was nice, although I have to say a little on thel ight side. A nice sweet caramel like aroma mixed in with ample earthy grains made for a full aroma, just a little light. The taste was really smooth. for 9%abv this was remarkable in that you could pick up none of the alcohol. It had a medium to full body that had a great creamy feel to it. Great flavors of caramel with a touch of grassy hops and a decent bread like back. It had a noticable nuttiness to it as well. Overall this was a very very nice beer and something I know I will go back to. It was just so rediculously smooth, I really could have had four or five of them, thugh I am sure it would have caught up to me before then. Really a great treat and something I would have to highly recommend.

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2007 02:44:53 | More by mikesgroove
Photo of brentk56

North Carolina

4.5/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a reasonably clear ice tea colored body with a nice beige head that hangs around for the duration and leaves good lacing

Smell: Smells like raisins, biscuits, caramel and rubber bands

Taste: Tastes rather sweet on the front end with a caramel raisin flavor; mid-palate is when things start to happen, as peaty, smokey flavors builds up to an overwhelming level and creates a very complex finish that meshes with the caramel malt flavors

Mouthfeel: Mediium-heavy body with modest carbonation

Drinkability: A complex and enjoyable Wee Heavy

Serving type: bottle

01-17-2006 02:13:33 | More by brentk56
Photo of Phyl21ca

Quebec (Canada)

3.59/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Bottle: Poured a clear amber color ale with a medium size foamy head with good retention and some light lacing. Aroma consists of deep caramelized malt with lightly sweet undertones and light toffee notes. Taste is also a mix between some caramelized malt notes with some toffee notes and a dry aftertaste. Body is about average with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Well brewed and quite enjoyable though overall dryer then I had expected.

Serving type: bottle

02-19-2013 21:14:49 | More by Phyl21ca
Photo of BEERchitect


4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another strong and malty beer. Has a lot of Dopplebock characteristics with it. Aromas of molassas and malt. Flavors of the same with deep figs, dates, and raison flavors. Perhapse some chocolate and smoke flavor added. Light bittering from roasted grains. Though good flavors, it has a burned flavor to me that is a bit harsh and unpleasant. The alcohols remain sweet and tame for an 8.5%er. Alcohols become a bit sherry-like and didn't completely agree with style. Stays creamy and heavy. A good winter warmer.

Serving type: bottle

11-07-2005 16:38:49 | More by BEERchitect
Photo of metter98

New York

4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is slightly hazy copper in color and has a moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a finger high creamy beige head that quickly settled down leaving a thin layer of bubbles that consistently covered the surface.
S: There are moderate aromas of dark fruits in the nose and notes of malty sweetness.
T: The overall taste is rather sweet and has flavors of dark fruits along with notes of molasses and hints of caramel. There are some hints of spices in the finish.
M: It feels medium-bodied and smooth on the palate with a light to moderate amount of carbonation. The mouthfeel is rather light compared to other beers in this style.
O: The beer is quite flavorful and very easy to drink because the alcohol is well masked from the taste. It is a good representation of the style.

Serving type: bottle

03-25-2011 01:03:59 | More by metter98
Photo of ChainGangGuy


4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

11 ounce bottle - $2.79 at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours a clear, dark reddish-brown body with a smallish, off-white head.

Smell: Sweet-smelling, peat-laden nose with notes of caramel, chocolate, vinous fruits, and cooked sugars.

Taste: Pale malts stirred up with pleasingly, sweet tastes of dark caramel, sugar-coated peat, brown sugar, and milk chocolate. Slightly warming alcohol presence; sure, it's noticeable, but it's not ever glaring. Raisiny fruitiness. Mildly spicy hops and bitterness. Finishes semi-dry with an enduring taste of candied fruit.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation. Slightly sticky mouthfeel.

Drinkability: A nice, satisfying, sweet-tasting brew. It had been some years since I last had one and shame on me for letting it go so long, really.

Serving type: bottle

03-07-2009 03:18:07 | More by ChainGangGuy
Photo of oberon

North Carolina

4.18/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Very appetizing amber colored beer with rich creamy head.Raisin-like aroma to it,kinda porty in taste to me with some dried fruit in there,alchol was prevalent ecspecially when it began to warm.Something to drink before bedtime.Really nice liked it alot.

Serving type: bottle

03-18-2003 09:13:14 | More by oberon
Photo of TMoney2591


3.68/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a plastic tumbler.

Another old favorite from back in the day finally getting revisited. It pours a clear sunset amber topped by about a finger or so of off-white foam. The nose comprises caramel, buttery biscuits, light toffee, and orange peel. The taste doesn't deviate one bit from the sell. Period. Fair enough. The body is a straight medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a somewhat drying finish. Overall, a solid Scotch ale, but somehow not as good as I remember it being back in the day.

Serving type: bottle

02-14-2011 01:10:08 | More by TMoney2591
Photo of biboergosum

Alberta (Canada)

3.65/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

330ml bottle. A strange find in decidedly non-raping and pillaging suburban Portland, OR earlier this year.

This beer pours a perfectly clear dark ruddy amber hue, with two broad fingers of creamy, foamy ecru head, which leaves a low castle ruins profile of lace around the glass as it slowly recedes. It smells of sweet, sharp malt - caramel, toffee, and dark, tangy fruit, all adrift in a boozy undercurrent. The taste is more caramel malt, tinged with edgy toffee, dark musty fruit, herbal, earthy hops, and mildly metallic alcohol. The carbonation is fairly sedate, the body medium weight, and mostly smooth, the booze tugging at the trouser cuffs a tad. It finishes off-dry, the latent malt chugging along, buffered by a more than slight astringency, equal parts booze and herbal hops.

Pretty hard to say anything bad about this offering, lest Odin's dogs of war be set free. Still, the standard, enjoyable big malt component isn't done any favours by the kind of off-putting hop character. Booze, I can deal with, this, less so.

Serving type: bottle

10-21-2011 01:10:51 | More by biboergosum
Photo of feloniousmonk


3.83/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear, bright garnet hue,nearing auburn, with huge carbonation, bubbles all over the place, with a flush head of beige foam that goes down in a flurry of vanishing bubbles.
Aroma, deeply, darkly malty, woody, some spices float about in the nose, caramel, some fruitiness, dark ones, grapes and cherries, a wealth of complexities...
nice taste, caramel leads the flavor, just nearly definable as "rich", but not quite..nay, not quite as full in the mouth as we'd hope, and then the booze kicks in, and it tastes something like a blend of dark rum and cherry brandy. I swear I wasn't drinking officer, well, one teensy little beer, maybe...
Body's a bit medium, finish is, too, doesn't quite maintain a presence on the palate. Overall, a tasty, boozy blend of malt and fruit.
For the sake of my skull, though, I plan to visit this brew at well-spaced intervals.

Serving type: bottle

06-07-2004 02:09:20 | More by feloniousmonk
Photo of TheManiacalOne

Rhode Island

3.93/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a light reddish brown color with a medium foamy off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a spotty lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of dark fruit, vanilla, bourbon, caramel and a little bit of hops.

T: The taste starts quickly with the sweetness of vanilla & caramel, but is quickly countered by the tart bitterness of dark fruits to the point of nearly being sour. There’s a decent hops presence for the style and a hearty malt character. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium-to-heavy body, medium carbonation, sticky finish.

D: Tasty, goes down easy, not too filling, good representation of style, good kick, this beer is a bit more poundable than most that I’ve had in the style. It’s flavorful but isn’t quite as heavy as other Scotch Ales. I could drink a few of them but the 8.50% ABV might catch up with me by the time I finish the 4-pack.

Serving type: bottle

09-30-2007 06:23:29 | More by TheManiacalOne
Photo of russpowell


3.83/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Caramel coloring with white bubbly headt hat drops quickly but leavesan impressive lace

Smell: Smokiness (peat), plums and alcohol

Taste: Sweetness and peat taste and lots of both. OTT as the Brits would say (or just to damn much), Slight bitternes and some charcoal taste, tastes do not mix together to anything like perfection

MF: Slick, some what syruppy, good carbonation

Drinkablity: The overall effect is just too overstated. I remember a much better cask version years ago (92ish)

Serving type: bottle

12-25-2005 05:02:50 | More by russpowell
Photo of WesWes

New York

4.45/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a dark ruby red color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is great. It has a rich and creamy malt scent that boasts of crystal and roasted malts. It's sweet and toastey and slightly warming. The taste is great also. It has a very smooth, malty flavor that boasts of crystal, roasted, and peated malts. It has a nice smokey character that mellows the elevated abv. . The mouthfeel is good. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is an awesome beer. I love everything about it. One of the top wee heavy beers out there.

Serving type: bottle

08-19-2005 01:31:46 | More by WesWes
Photo of drabmuh


4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I've had this beer on at least 4 different occasions and each time its been different. The first time was way back in 2001, it tasted like soy sauce with sugar in it, the second time was in 2005 in a bar because someone described it to me as "their favorite beer" and didn't believe my soy sauce story. That time it was quite good. The third time was about a year later, completely soy sauce. This review is based on the most recent tasting, last night, definitely not soy sauce.

Beer is clear and dark brown almost ruby but dark. Thin brown head that breaks quickly leaving some lacing on the glass. Carbonation is low. Beer served at near room temperature in a tulip.

Aroma is mild, mostly sweetness, some malt, minimal roast, overall its a little weak.

Beer is medium body with a lead off sweetness and a blank finish. There is some toffee and maybe a little bit of sweetness in the mid to late palate and no carbonation. The beer seems to thin the more I drink it, its moderately peaty. The earthiness to it is minimal but overall its a good beer.

The teetertotter I've been on with this beer is a little frustrating. If I were to guess, I would say the two times I had horrid experiences with it, the bottles were old or improperly stored and that this latest bottle is really fresh and young. I would drink a GOOD one again, but I'm batting 500 right now and may not want to tempt fate.

Serving type: bottle

10-15-2010 19:34:48 | More by drabmuh
Photo of zeff80


3.83/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured out a burgandy/brown color with a fluffy, tan, three-finger head. Left some traces of lace.

S - It smelled of malt and spices.

T - It was spicy and had a burnt toast malt. There was also a dried fruit taste.

M - It was smooth and crisp with a warm alcohol presence. A medium to heavy-bodied beer.

D - This is a pretty good beer, but it would be hard to have a couple in one sitting. I've just been having one at a time.

Serving type: bottle

08-27-2007 02:01:52 | More by zeff80
Photo of jlindros


3.8/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into undersized snifter that I had to repour the last small about from the bottle into it.

A: Huge honkin head of 2 fingers from 2/3 of the beer 6that seems to hang around for a while, the dark copper brown color is very clear and pure, slight bubbles rising up helps the head retention

N: After watching the head slowly disappear, it's time to nose it. It's got some alcohol and dark fruits right out front, some roasted malts, raisin, plum, and a strange cake batter like sweet malt that makes me want to stick it in the oven, but I decided to drink it instead...

T: Starts with more dark rich fruits, plum, raisin, roasted malts, sour yeast, fruity malts, dark toffee taste, what kinda beer is this again? Its like drinking a rich fruit beer with sour malts and lots of carbonation, slight yeasty taste adds a little more depth

M: Lots of carbonation, semi thick on the tongue

F: Pretty sweet, leaves a dark fruity sweetness on the tongue and strange earthy bitter tone, that same fruity and earthy quality adds a strange sweet and savory taste that just sticks out, it dries out pretty well and leaves a thirst and almost off bitter flavor.

Final thoughts: Fruity malt bomb that hides the alcohol well, buy is a little too fruity. All the fruits are dark and heavy that come from the malts and yeast only. Interesting taste but a little too fruity for me. It's definitely worth a try for everyone.

Serving type: bottle

09-05-2009 04:31:11 | More by jlindros
Photo of Gueuzedude


3.85/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer sits a ruby, deep amber color in my glass. It is topped by a frothy, thinnish pale brown head. The aroma is nice and malty with notes of toffee, caramel, a rich concentrated malt note and a bit of cherry. The beer is sweet throughout, though in no way sticky, and it has a medium body to it that is light enough to not be too chewy. This has nice notes of chewy toffee, some notes of molasses, a bit of chocolate and dark malt in the finish. This beer has a nice richness to it, but is still somewhat easily drinkable. This is pretty tasty, purely a complex malty beer, that is nice to slowly sip on.

Serving type: bottle

10-25-2005 04:16:32 | More by Gueuzedude
Photo of Knapp85


4.35/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours out as a beautiful redish brown color with a good head to start then it card off just to leave a little white film over top of the beer. The smell is semi sweet with some malts dominating the aroma with a bit or caramel. The taste is sweet too with some caramel flavors through out. The mouthfeel is pretty smooth and not overly carbonated. It's a stronger beer too coming in at 8.5%. Overall I enjoy this beer quite a bit, probably one of my favorite Scottish beers I've ever had. I look forward to having this every time I get the chance. Really worth checking out!

Serving type: bottle

05-27-2011 05:15:04 | More by Knapp85
Photo of jwc215


4.5/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours mahogany with ruby hues and a frothy off-white head with great retention.

The smell is of caramel with earthy/woody and raisiny notes.

The taste is of caramel/toffee with earthy notes and a hint of butter. Rich maltiness is balanced by raisins and a light roast in the finish.

Creamy, smooth and full-bodied.

Dangerously drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

08-21-2008 17:44:08 | More by jwc215
Photo of RblWthACoz


4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a slightly fogged amber. Nose is leafy and nutty. Kind of a berry edge to it as well. Flavor is nice and malty sweet. Great balance here. Smooth and even. Feel has a slick feel and a low carbonation. Very easy to drink and well worth drinking. An oustandibg beer.

Serving type: bottle

10-15-2008 01:37:22 | More by RblWthACoz
Photo of WVbeergeek


3.53/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep ruby body with a big fluffy caramel tan head, nice fine lacing forms evenly down the sides of my glass. The aromatics bring out caramel malt body with a fruit ridden malt body. This one has a new label, with a prety badass cartoon dark comic book viking versus the old red foiled kind of shitty viking pic. Flavor a touch of underlying smoke, roasted caramel malts, ripened plums. A bit of hidden booze in the finish, body is medium bodied. Carbonation is pretty easy going, finishes dry but has a nice rich malt flavor. Seems different from yrs ago when I initially had it but still an enjoyable experience overall, not a must have but a solid wee heavy for sure.

Serving type: bottle

12-19-2010 03:45:35 | More by WVbeergeek
Photo of smcolw


3.73/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dark honey/melted sugar color; light will penetrate clearly. Decent beige head leaving layered lace on the glass.

Strong sweet caramels and brown sugar show up in the smell. There's a touch of plastic present, but it's very much in the background.

An overwhelmingly sweet beer on the initial taste. There is a very surprising hop finish in the swallow. Very rich and full-bodied, it also has a high level of carbonation. It's been a while since I've had a real Scotch Ale; this one seems a wee bit heavier than most I've tried (pun intended).

This beer is growing on me with each sip. My initial reaction was, whoa, way too much residual sugar. But I like how the hop catches up with the beer. Perhaps it's the 8.5% alcohol content (which is quite muted by the flavors), but more likely, it's the nice balance in the aftertaste.

Serving type: bottle

08-13-2005 18:42:56 | More by smcolw
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Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery
91 out of 100 based on 1,585 ratings.